In both situations my pen is now on a table. Speaking to another person, why do we say:

1) Qing3 na2 qi3 wo3 de5 bi3. 请拿起我的笔。


2) Qing3 na2 qi3 lai2 wo3 de5 bi3. 请拿起来我的笔。

How does the addition or deletion of lai (来) change this sentence?

++Yet this seems O.K.++

3) Qing3 ni3 ba3 bi3 na2 qi3 lai2. 请你把笔拿起来.

  • What does that even mean? Edit: please pick up my pen?
    – Mou某
    Apr 14, 2014 at 14:36
  • Yes, it means. Please pick up my pen. Apr 14, 2014 at 14:43
  • Your profile says that you are in the midst of creating a Chinese teaching program. I am curious how are you able to do it without being able to type in Chinese :P
    – 杨以轩
    Apr 14, 2014 at 14:47
  • Teach only with pictures and pinyin. Excellent question! You are really on the ball. Apr 14, 2014 at 14:51
  • 1
    Anyway I edited this post by adding Chinese ... it's painful for native speakers to read bare pinyin.
    – Stan
    Apr 14, 2014 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


Verb + Directional Complement

The direction verb immediately following the verb and indicating the direction of the action, is called the direction complement.

If the object is a thing, it can be placed as:

他**带**了一份合同**回来** (Tā dài le yí fèn hétóng huílái)


他**带回**一份合同**来** (Tā dài huí yí fèn hétóng lái)

[Source: 当代中文 (Dāngdài Zhōngwén) Book 2, 2nd Edition, 2006]

You can Google directional complement to find more information as well as quizzes, so you can learn more about it and test yourself.

P.S. if you are teaching beginners, with pinyin only, this sentence construct is beyond them.

EDIT: sorry I realise I only answered via inference. To be clear, the reason why we don't say it your second way: because grammar, that's why. An arbitrary set of rules that all (read: most) people agree upon :)

  • Allsetlearning calls 起来 a result complement not a directional complement. Could the difference between the two sentences be that we are not interested in the result of the action with:请拿起我的笔? Apr 15, 2014 at 3:25
  • In this instance we are only interested in the direction the 笔 moves. Right? Apr 15, 2014 at 3:26
  • Google directional complement, you'll find 起来 there, because it's a directional complement, not a result complement (见, 到, etc.) The difference between your two sentences is that the first is grammatically correct, the second is not.
    – Ming
    Apr 15, 2014 at 3:50
  • You confirmed that the second is not grammatically correct. Still, if it is a directional complement it "should" work. Is something else working in the background? Apr 15, 2014 at 4:59
  • 1
    Syntax: where the directional complement is supposed to go in relation to the subject, verb, and object. As you can see from the two examples above, it tells you where the directional complement is supposed to go (after the object, or cleaved in two with the object in between.) It's just something you need to remember. As with pretty much all grammar, there is no good answer to the question why, the reason is simply that everyone agrees it should be like that.
    – Ming
    Apr 15, 2014 at 5:08

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